5.56 Timeline

A Patrol Rifle Primer

The patrol rifle and its capability is tied to department policy and budget. In some cases, the rifles are tied to an officer’s personal budget.

BLS records show that the median annual wage for police and sheriff’s patrol officers was $61,050 in May of 2017. This means that 50 percent of all officers made more than this amount and the other half made less. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $105,230 and the bottom 10 percent earned less than $35,780. https://work.chron.com/police-officers-starting-salary-6740.html

The patrol rifle. Department budgets. Department policy. Personal budget. Kids. Family. Mortgage. Insurance. Car payments. Private school. Food.

Unfortunately, the reality is that a dept. budget is not the only limiting factor on officer equipment. Many of his or her personal, and/or family needs will come before a big ticket item like a rifle.

Most officers are on a Palmetto State Armory budget, and not a Geissele or Daniel Defense budget.

Therefore this article will look at things from the perspective of a budgetary sliding scale. Base rifle (as issued, if applicable) with upgrades and data points to direct officers to a solid foundation for a reliable, budget friendly piece of equipment.

As Issued:

Many departments will require an officer to supply their own rifle which meets guideline and policy criteria, or will issue a basic carbine. Those officers which are issued a carbine may be dissapointed to find that the dept. prohibits customization, or perhaps severely limits changes an individual officer can make to the carbine. Let’s examine a typical, bare bones patrol rifle.


The typical patrol rifle is likely a 16 inch carbine with a collaspable stock. Carbines like these are offered by every major manufacturer and the components are similar from company to company. This is simply bare bones with nothing more, nothing less.

If an officer is limited by dept policy in accepting the carbine as is, there is little that can be done to cover the deficincies of such a basic package. My goal is to educate you so that you will be enformed enough to present an argument in favor to some modest upgrades which will address the deficiencies of the standard issue rifle.

The standard-issue iron-sighted carbine has several issues that should be addressed. The use of soft armor makes effective control of the carbine difficult under most normal conditions. With IIIa soft armor, the officer is unable to mount the rifle securely into the shoulder pocket below the clavicle and medial to the deltoid. The thickness of II and IIIa removes this secure location for pocketing of the rifles stock.

The nylon to plastic surface is slick and does not create enough friction to ensure a good mount of the carbine. The stock and rifleman can be at odds as it slips easily off the shoulder… Throw awkward and often hasty shooting positons into the mix and what is awkward can lead to potential missed targets and poor rifle control and recoil management.

The solution to this problem is relatively simple. If the patrol rifle cannot be “modified” past the stock components, then we can look to the market for solutions. There are a variety of rubber butt pads available for the standard M4 style collapsable stock. Limbsaver is among the numerous companies making rubber recoil pads for the M4 stock, and prices are quite reasonable. At the time of this writing, prices range from $10-$32 for various styles and brands. Since this leaves no permanent modification to the issued rifle, I beleive a reasonable argument can be made to support such a purchase. The difference in support and control of a rubber butt pad v.s. plastic on nylon armor is night and day.

A rubber butplate makes a world of difference in carbine control over soft armor.

If you are fortunate enough to convince the dept. to upgrade the stock itself, then numerous aftermarket stocks are available with rubber butt-plates integrated into the design, as well as storage for batteries and other small items. This could cost upwards of $40-100 for reputable, established brands and components. Magpul is the often-cited go-to for affordable and well-built stock upgrades.

Iron Sights

The issued department carbine may be equipped with only iron sights. While every officer should be proficient in iron sight usage, many departments fail to educate officers on marksmanship and iron sight fundamentals.

The first point of discussion should be the rear sight and its functions. Most rifles will be equipped with a large and small aperture rear sight. The function of the large aperture, as originally designed, is to give the rifleman a 0-200 meter ghost ring that is fast on target, and usable in low light. The ghost ring emphasizes speed on target over slower, more precise rifle fire.

The small peep sight is built to enhance rifleman precision for longer range engagements, and consequently raises the zero by 2 Minutes of angle on a USGI carry handle. By the nature of the peep sight, it enhances the shooter’s depth of field. The officer can focus on the front sight, and the target will be slightly fuzzy… If you take the same front sight focus with the large aperture deployed, your target will be *very* fuzzy. The eye cannot focus on multiple planes at once. The small peep helps the officer focus on the front sight and improves target fidelity over the large aperture for enhanced precision.

The biggest downside, aside from their complexity in relation to modern sights… is adverse lighting conditions. Iron sights are a poor choice in low light conditions. Without contrasting colors, the eye has a difficult time resolving the front sight and aligning it with a target in a darkened environment. Simple upgrades to the front sight mitigate this issue easily. Manufacturers such as Blitzkrieg Components and XS sights produce a variety of front sight replacements that offer bold, high contrast sight pictures. These front sights add contrast to the black on black sight picture of an officer aiming into a dark environment. In addition, they are also offered with glow elements which aid in outdoor to indoor transitions. From a bright sunny day to a dark interior, the human eye takes several minutes to reach a fully dark-adapted state, with older officers taking longer than younger officers. Having a bright, battery-free, high contrast reference point from a bright exterior to a dim interior will assist officers with sight and target alignment.

Black on white contrast will aid in sight and target alignment. It’s no red dot, but irons are quite durable and inexpensive.


Lights have never been more brighter for the dollar. Officers can find several models of duty weapon ready lights ranging from $60- $220 dollars. The challenge is to mount them to a rifle when the department is reluctant to upgrade carbines with modular rail systems. There are several products on the market that allow officers to mount lights to rifles without changing the basic configuration of the carbine. Kerm-Lock, Impact Weapon Components, and GG&G offer solutions that are cost-effective and make no permanent modifications to the basic rifle.


The Kerm-Lock is an ingenious system composed of black delrin, a cam action, and polyurethane doughnuts that trap the device to the hand-guard. This allows the officer to quickly remove and replace a weapon light as needed. Since it also does not modify the weapon in any way, shape, or form, it can be removed easily to allow the carbine to fit into storage racks or the various vehicle mounts without issue.

Behind a white hot light, irons offer deep black contrast against an illuminated target

The Impact Weapon Components Mount-and-Slot is another product which does not modify the handguards, but is not field removable once in place. The GG&G Slic-Thing, likewise, places a picatinny rail and sling mount on the weapon which is installed into the front sight base. It is not removable in the field. The various mounting solutions range in price from $39-$69 dollars at the time of this writing.

Red Dot Sights

The red dot has been around since the 1980s, and with nearly 30 years of advancement, it has become more affordable, reliable, and robust. Dot sights are offered in red, green, and even “gold” for color blind officers. If your fortunate enough that your department allows personal rifles or upgrades to issued patrol rifles, then one of the first additions will likely be a red dot sight.

I have found, on average, the red dot sight to be a durable.. and simple device. I have drop tested, thrown, drowned, and beat up on Aimpoint, DI-Optical, Primary Arms, Holoson, Atibal, Trijicon, and numerous other RDS sights. None have broken.

Products such as the Aimpoint Pro, Sig Sauer Romeo Series, EOtech, and Trijicon all produce red dot sights that can meet a variety of dept. and individual officer budgets. The officer should do his or her research and check with their department for brands approved for patrol rifle use, but in general I have been very happy with the cost to performance ratio of even “middle of the road” red dot sights. Of course, buy the best you can afford.

While red-dots are now a common sighting system, it needs to be said they are not perfect. The industry has rapidly developed numerous models of mini red dot sights to meet the growing demand of pistol slide mounting. These open emitter sights are lightweight, have a small footprint, and offer a wide field of view… they are a good fit for a lightweight patrol rifle. Under the wrong circumstances, water or debris can occlude or deform the dot. A single blade of dead grass has blown into the author’s red dot while shooting recreationally, and it completely obscured the dot until cleared. While this is a rare occurrence, it can occur. I find I am happier with closed emitters, but they are not without their own issues:

Shoot and run in the rain. This is where you will meet very challenging sight conditions for the corrective lense wearer. Fog on your glasses, rain drops on all three lenses. Low fidelity sight picture.

For officers wearing corrective lenses, it must be said that rain and temperature will deteriorate your vision through the optic. Having shot in downpour conditions with corrective lenses, it must be noted that you have three lenses between you and the target… each collects water droplets and deteriorates your ability to obtain a clear sight picture. I found it easier to use magnified optics for rainy conditions as the focal point reduces the water droplets to mere shadows. If you seek additional reading on this subject, please see Optics in Adverse Conditions at TNR.

Battery Free mini dots are past their prime. Dim, and unusable from indoors to outdoors, and also unusable with a bright weapon light. Avoid.

Battery-free, fiber optic dot sights are another style of optic to avoid. These optics have trouble with reticle brightness when shooting from a dark area to a brightly lit area… In addition, the activation of a weapon light easily washes them out making the reticle faint and hard to find. These optics should be considered obsolete as they are unable to function well in adverse lighting situations.

Variable Optics

Variable optics have grown in popularity and there are many manufacturers vying for your dollar in this highly competitive market. Again, dept. approval should be sought for brands… However with the diversity in product and reticle type, how can dept’s guide officers towards a solid, useable product?

Its important to look at the variable optic from an officers viewpoint. Is the optic robust? Does the reticle allow solid shooting in adverse lighting conditions? The author has had the opportunity to handle and review optics from $1400 down to $299. There is tremendous variance in these product lines. Sticking to known brands such as Trijicon, Burris, Vortex, Steiner, etc. is a wise choice, but it can be challenging to find a reticle system that meets the need of a patrol officer.

Light, Contrast, and Electronics: A Fine Balance

Typically, a modern variable will attempt to provide an officer with a do-all, close range, mid-range optic. Reticle illumination is a tool that can provide officers contrast when shooting into dark environments… and if the battery dies they still have a usable black reticle. Or do they? The move to minimalist reticle designs has been driven by consumers wanting a clear, uncluttered sight picture. When the battery illumination is functional, these optics attempt to function as a red dot by the use of an illuminated horseshoe or chevron reticle. When the illumination fails it renders the reticle hard to find and difficult to see in challenging lighting conditions. When choosing a variable, the reticle design should be bold and treated as a failsafe to a dead battery or dead illumination.

Consider all possible lighting conditions. A German #4 is extremely useful in all lighting conditions, and offers an officer a aiming reference for indoors to outdoors, indoors with weapon light, and if illuminated, in low light.

Furthermore, how “eye-catching” will the reticle be when used in conjunction with a bright weapon light? Again a minimalist reticle can be a problem in a variety of lighting scenarios. Consider the following:

An officer has illumination of an optic to level 4/10 in a dim environment. A higher setting causes the optic to bloom in dark conditions and is too bright. A threat appears and the officer activates his/her weapon light. The weapon light immediately washes out the illuminated reticle. Does the reticle design offer more points of reference for the officer without relying on illumination? (Hint: German #4 is easy to use in this scenario)

An officer leaves his optic on in the vehicle, and unbeknownst to him/her, the battery is dead. The rifle is deployed and he/she now has a tiny, minimalist reticle with no “red dot”. Is the reticle still fast on target? Does it offer the officer additional reference points for aiming at a threat? (Hint: A German #4 does)

While not a variable, the ACOG in this example has certain elements present in a German #4 in that it has large, high contrast bars at 3, 6, and 9. An optic with a minimalist reticle may be difficult to acquire rapidly in challenging lighting conditions.
If your illumination fails… you need to rely on a bold, eye catching reticle. This one is not those things… lets fix it.
This is the same reticle with horizontal crossbars badly overlaid. Which would be easier to use in a challenging light environment?

So while the variable optics are a de-facto do all optic, many of the reticle designs are wanting and are a poor choice in adverse lighting conditions. Carefully consider the environments in which the weapon may be deployed, and think of the optic holistically. A variable has to be robust, intuitive and should work well even if the battery is dead.

Would this reticle be a good choice if the battery was DOA?

Wrapping Up:

With the AR15 market full of back-orders, and delays… it may not be consumer choice but rather the availability of components that are the driving factor in equipping a patrol rifle. Wise decisions must be made to maximize the flexibility of the gear in various scenarios an officer may encounter. A basic, solid carbine can be had form several manufacturers, but equipping the carbine with accessories can be daunting due to the available options and information overload. Careful thought into the impact of upgrades must be made to ensure a carbine is a flexible tool under any conditions. There is a fine balance of officer/department budget, and upgrades which enhance the capability of the carbine and officer.

Special Thanks to Officer Chris H of Breach Bang Clear for oversight and his input. Thanks to LooseRounds for tolerating me all these years, and please visit www.thenewrifleman.com and stop by and say hi!

Lothaen out!

Maryland cop steals gun from dead man’s home while responding

An Anne Arundel County officer has been arrested and charged with theft after police said he stole firearms while responding to a death in a Maryland home.

Cpl. Jacob Miskill with the Anne Arundel County Police Department was among several officers who had investigated a report of an unattended death in the 1600 block of Wall Drive in Pasadena on April 27, the agency said in a news release.

On Friday, July 31, police received information that Miskill — a five-year veteran of the department — may have stolen firearms and other property from the residence over three months ago.

Following an internal investigation, police obtained and carried out a search-and-seizure warrant on Miskill’s home this weekend, where he was then taken into custody.

Miskill faces charges of first-degree burglary, third-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary, theft between $1,500 and $25,000, scheming to commit theft between $1,500 and $25,000, and misconduct in office, police said.

“Peaceful Riots”? Journalism Bows To The Woke Mob

Authored by Mark Hemingway via RealClearPolitics.com,

Just a few weeks ago the idea of “peaceful riots” would have seemed absurd, but the American media is nothing if not inventive these days.

Earlier this week, ABC News reported, “Protesters in California set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station and assaulted officers after a peaceful demonstration intensified.” Legal scholar Eugene Volokh wonders how this terminology would work in the real world: “You are being charged with an intensified peaceful demonstration, in the second degree. How do you plead?”

Indeed, the media’s commitment to tempering their descriptions of violent riots sweeping the nation as “mostly peaceful” is relentless – that particular phrase has become a media cliché practically overnight. Of course, America’s police officers could also be accurately described as “mostly peaceful,” but any journalist who dared to give cops the same generous benefit of the doubt would likely cause a riot in their own newsroom.

That’s why it was almost shocking to read an Associated Press report earlier this week from reporter Mike Balsamo, who embedded with federal law enforcement protecting the Mark O. Hatfield courthouse in downtown Portland.

I watched as injured officers were hauled inside. In one case, the commercial firework came over so fast the officer didn’t have time to respond. It burned through his sleeves and he had bloody gashes on both forearms. Another had a concussion from being hit in the head with a mortar,” Balsamo reported.

“The lights inside the courthouse have to be turned off for safety and the light from high-powered lasers bounced across the lobby almost all night. The fear is palpable. Three officers were struck in the last few weeks and still haven’t regained their vision.”

Despite the obvious evidence of organized violence, Balsamo’s report is about the only good-faith effort from the national press attempting to inform the public about the current plight of law enforcement. Meanwhile, the media have spent weeks going out of their way to portray rioters as unambiguous freedom fighters.

When protesters in Portland organized a “Wall of Moms” to stand between federal marshals protecting the courthouse and the rioters throwing bricks and shooting fireworks, it prompted gushing media coverage. Columnist Jonathan Alter called the Wall of Moms a “brilliant tactic that may forever change social protest,” apparently unaware that groups such as Hamas have been cynically using human shields for decades. Following their 15 minutes of fame, you will not be surprised to learn that the group has descended into “Judean People’s Frontinfighting over the leader’s allegedly insufficient fealty to Black Lives Matter. In spite of media wish-casting, the Wall of Moms was never a morally serious effort.

Naturally, the big beneficiaries of this one-sided media narrative about riots are Democratic Party politicians. On Wednesday, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced that the federal government had reached a deal with the city of Portland to downsize the federal law enforcement presence at the courthouse that was clashing with protesters. However, Wolf’s statement made it clear that the deal was contingent on the city stepping up its own police presence to protect the building, which was all the federal government had asked the city to do months ago.

Rather than admit the deal was a tacit acknowledgement Portland had failed its basic responsibility to maintain law and order, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown pretended it was a victory against jackbooted feds who “acted as an occupying force and brought violence.”

But Brown’s rhetoric is dishonest, as she knows better than most. There were nightly riots for weeks before the feds arrived in downtown Portland. Along with Minneapolis and Seattle, Portland holds the dubious distinction of being a city that has failed to protect its own buildings. Rioters had already burned the Multnomah County Justice Center jail and the Portland Police Bureau headquarters, just a few blocks away from the federal courthouse.

Speaking as an Oregonian and former resident of Portland, I’ll note that the city’s problems go far beyond the recent riots. Business leaders have been begging City Hall to address law and order issues for years. In 2017, the CEO of Columbia Sportswear, one of Oregon’s most beloved companies, wrote a blistering op-ed about the city’s problems.

“A few days ago, one of our employees had to run into traffic when a stranger outside our office followed her and threatened to kill her,” Tim Boyle wrote.

“On other occasions our employees have arrived at work only to be menaced by individuals camping in the doorway. And our employees have had so many car break-ins downtown that we have started referring to parking in Portland as our ‘laptop donation program.’ Given these experiences, it is a relief when the only thing we are dealing with is the garbage and human waste by our front door. Think about that for a minute. This is outrageous and unacceptable.”

Anyone who has spent time in Portland comes to understand the mutually beneficial relationship between the homeless and itinerant gutter-punks who are the main source of the city’s crime and violence and the left-wing activists whose radical agenda of decriminalization lets them control the streets. After police responded to Boyle’s plea to keep excrement out of the doorway of his business, Boyle found himself on the receiving end of organized protests, forcing him to shut down Columbia’s flagship store downtown.

The city has also been capitulating to threats of left-wing political violence for years. Also in 2017, Portland canceled its annual Rose parade after “anti-fascists” threatened violence because members of the Multnomah County Republican Party were among the many civic groups slated to march. It’s one thing to claim that violence is justified against unwanted federal officers invading your city – but threatening local residents with violence because they are Republicans?

Even then, the city rolled over and in doing so conceded that violent left-wing activists control Portland. That’s not hyperbole – taking control of the city was literally one of the threats made in the anonymous email that caused officials to cancel the parade: “You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely.”

Who exactly is in charge in Portland? Well, it’s not Mayor Ted Wheeler, who’s spent years openly disparaging and undermining his own police force even as he let antifa direct traffic in his city. You’d think this would endear Wheeler to the radicals he’s trying to appease, but when he recently made a supportive appearance at the courthouse protests downtown the crowd booed and yelled at him to resign.

At this point, it’s insulting to insist that American consumers of news can’t distinguish legitimate protest from violent rioting that has devastated Portland and dozens of other cities. Similarly, there’s plenty of room for criticism of heavy-handed federal and police tactics, while still understanding that we can’t stand by and let violent mobs burn courthouses. But if covering a story from multiple angles used to be the norm in the media, it’s not anymore.

Ultimately, members of the media have a choice to make – you can be honest about the alarming evidence of law and order breaking down in American cities. Or you can continue to torch your credibility by downplaying the nightly violence for reasons that appear overtly partisan. Please consider your decision wisely.

3D Printed XM-148

One of my friends on facebook has started working on making 3D printed replicas of the XM148 grenade launcher used in the Vietnam war before the M203. I think eventually he will be selling them.

As you can see above he is also working on the heat shield. The cool thing is that other than actually firing something, it works like a real one.